The search for new sources of renewable energy is one of the most current global challenges for the sustainable development of both industrialized and emerging countries. In this context, the activity of ISM develops along several directions. They include the synthesis or fabrication of the materials, the characterization of the electronic, morphologic and structural properties and the implementation of the produced materials in prototypal devices. Moreover, theoretical studies and modeling drive the choice of the molecules and direct the synthesis towards products with a suitable electronic configuration. In the field of organic photovoltaics (OPV) ISM is focused on the study and use of macrocycles based on porphyrins and phthalocyanines, polymeric materials with fullerenes and plasmonic nanostructures, metal-oligothiophene nanocomposites, all materials with strong redox reactivity and interesting photo-induced electron transfer and semiconductor properties. In parallel studies are being carried out on new classes of compounds such as Perovskites and hybrid organic-inorganic compounds with the general formula ABX3 where A is an organic cation, B a metal ion and divalent X a halogen. Non-conventional energy dispersion X-ray techniques, capable of performing time-resolved measurements and in-situ, are used for monitoring the chemical and physical processes and to investigate the mechanisms of aging related to the properties of bulk, surface, and interface. The synthesized materials after a proper electronic, morphologic and structural characterization are implemented in both dye sensitizer and organic hetero-junction solar cells.
Beyond to the fundamental aspects of these studies of materials, the goal is the production of information suitable for new strategies in the production of photovoltaic cells.
ISM is also involved in the use of innovative carbon based materials for the construction of thermionic-effect devices to be exploited in solar concentrators, in the production and characterization of wide-band-gap semiconductor superstructures (carbides, nitrides) by means of PVD methods for the construction of photovoltaic devices and advanced detectors with high sensitivity and in the development of converters for the recovery of energy from radioactive sources (specially selected wastes) for the production of nanobatteries with a lifetime of years.
The research in renewable energy is complemented by some activities for the safeguard of the environment. A goal of this activity is the production of materials and systems for heterogeneous catalysis for biomass production and the reduction of volatile organic compounds. Among the others, the search for new catalyzers for fuel production from biomasses and waste via the gasification by catalysis or mixed heterogeneous/enzimatic catalysis, the recovery of energy or monomers from plastics, tar elimination in biomass pyrolysis, CO2 absorption by means of ZIF.